The Illinois Citizens Utility Board has issued a consumer alert for rising natural gas and electricity prices this winter.
In a press release today, CUB says consumers are facing the possibility of of hundreds of dollars in higher heating bills this winter due to skyrocketing natural gas prices and out-of-control utility spending. CUB Communications Director Jim Chilsen says customers of Ameren-Illinois for natural gas saw approximately a 114% increase at the start of the month compared to October 2020: “We had extreme weather down in the southern United States earlier this year, last winter in fact; and that tied up the natural gas network for some time – about a week. That has led to skyrocketing energy prices throughout the year, really skyrocketing [natural] gas prices. Now, we are seeing that electricity prices are going up. It’s amazing to think and it can be hard to believe, but a major reason for these high gas prices is just the volatile weather that we had for a brief period last winter down in the southern United States. They had record cold down there that froze well heads and froze pipelines in the gas network. That limit in supply caused elevated supply prices all year. It really is important overall that we find strategies to combat climate change that caused this unnatural weather in the South.”
Chilsen says with the elevated costs that Illinois residents will now begin seeing and hearing from alternative electricity suppliers going door to door again. The Illinois Commerce Commission lifted the solicitation ban for Alternative Electric Suppliers soliciting people during the pandemic last month. Chilsen says it’s a prime time for people to get duped into a bad deal: “The fact of the matter is that alternative electricity suppliers are impacted by the same market conditions as the utilities are, so if a deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is. We want to stress to people that even in this market, it’s likely that the utility is your best bet for electricity supply, so be very careful if you want to shop on the electricity market. You should be very careful about getting lured into bad deals from alternative suppliers.”
Chilsen urges people having trouble paying their electric bills this winter to reach out to their utility and stress that you’re willing to pay and need help. The Citizens Utility Board has also set up a website to help citizens navigate the assistance process or check for tips and tricks to lower their energy costs during the winter during this surge in pricing. For more information, visit CUBHelpCenter.com.